« Back to articlePrint this article

TN governor re-allocates Balaji's portfolios, wants him dropped

Last updated on: June 16, 2023 21:09 IST

A fresh row broke out between Governor R N Ravi and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in Tamil Nadu on Friday over the issue of V Senthil Balaji staying in the Stalin cabinet after his arrest, with the governor expressing opposition to the minister's continuance in office.

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Governor Ravindra Narayana Ravi. Photograph: PTI Photo

A Chennai court, meanwhile, granted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) eight-day custody of Balaji, who was arrested on Wednesday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in an alleged cash for jobs scam in the state transport department when he was the transport minister in the All India Anna DMK government during 2011-15.

The 47-year-old minister, who is currently hospitalised, was earlier remanded to judicial custody till June 28.

The ED also summoned Balaji's brother R V Ashok Kumar, personal assistant B Shanmugam and others for questioning next week in connection with the same case.


A Raj Bhavan press statement in Chennai said Governor Ravi re-allocated the portfolios held by Balaji on the recommendations of Chief Minister M K Stalin but "has not agreed" to the minister continuing in the cabinet as he was facing criminal proceedings. After the re-allocation, Balaji is now a minister without portfolio.

Ravi "has not agreed to Thiru V Senthil Balaji continuing any longer as a member of the council of ministers, as he is facing criminal proceedings for moral turpitude and is currently in judicial custody," it said.

DMK spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai, who uploaded the Raj Bhavan statement on portfolio reallocation, took to Twitter to slam the governor, who has had frequent run-ins with the Stalin government.

"Governor's statement must be thrown into trash," he said.

"What is the link between someone continuing in the cabinet and governor? If someone has the qualification to continue as MLA, that person can continue as minister as well. This is the verdict in Jayalalithaa case." Annadurai did not elaborate on his remark on the Jayalalithaa case.

On Stalin's recommendations, the electricity, non-conventional energy development portfolio held by Balaji was allocated to Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu, the Raj Bhavan release said.

Further, the prohibition and excise, molasses departments held by Balaji were allocated to Housing and Urban Development Minister S Muthusamy.

Thennarasu and Muthusamy will hold the new portfolios in addition to their existing ones.

The portfolio reallocation comes a day after the DMK accused Ravi of not accepting Stalin's recommendation on this matter.

”Merely because a minister faces a case, he can't be removed," Higher Education minister K Ponmudi said in a statement on Thursday.

”The chief minister has the right to decide on the portfolio allocations or in inducting a minister or dropping a minister from the Council of Ministers, as per Constitution and not the governor,” he said.

Balaji's counsel A Saravanan told reporters in Chennai that the court granted the ED eight days custody of Balaji and made it clear to the central agency that the minister shall not be shifted out of the Kauvery hospital where he is currently undergoing treatment for a cardiac issue.

Balaji appeared before the court through video conferencing.

The court was informed that Balaji was set to undergo bypass surgery in "3-5 days," and certain drugs prescribed for him have been stopped to facilitate the procedure.

The next course of action will be taken based on consultations with senior advocates, Saravanan added.

A bulletin issued by Kauvery hospital said Balaji is currently being treated in the ICU with cardiac monitoring and being looked after by a multidisciplinary team of doctors and nurses.

Balaji was assessed by a team of doctors led by A R Raghuram, senior consultant cardio thoracic surgeon, who has advised early coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, a medical bulletin issued by Dr Aravindan Selvaraj, co-founder and executive director, Kauvery Group of Hospitals, said.

"He is undergoing further tests to assess fitness for anaesthesia and based on the assessment, the surgery will be planned," it added.

© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.